Sunday, December 17, 2017

Silly Story Contributions Have Arrived!

     In response to this rather silly piece, two of my Gentle Readers have stepped up to the plate and taken mighty swings.

     The first is from longtime reader jb:

     It was a small cell. The food was horrible - there was no other way to describe it. He was charged with a felony reserved for terrorists. Poisoning the water supply. He desperately hoped his treatment had worked. The judge would be a woman, In a day and age where feminists ruled the roost, as it were, his hopes were slim. He was married to the world's worst shrew . . . or used to be . . . he thought back . . .
     Sweet basil, more specifically, the balanga plant, ground up and liquified, was the "magic." He knew of its restorative powers - lowered fever, digestion, bacterial infections and getting rid of intestinal parasites. He had pondered that, and wondered if there might be even more to it in larger doses.
     The larger doses had proved ineffective on his bride. He had sneaked them into various sauces he made - since he was also the "chef" of the household. Never took. So he began to experiment. Smaller doses did not seem to work either. His blender was on its last legs before he found the formula. Boil the results of the blender's work, and then reduce. He slipped that into the pasta sauce one night.
     He had never experienced the marital embrace on the level he did that night. She exhausted him. And then, did so again when he had managed to recover a bit. He remembered thinking to himself "This is insane!" - but he wisely, and to his great pleasure, refrained from saying so. He also remembered thinking - "Is this what Adam knew with Eve before the Fall?"
     Even being alone, he blushed just thinking about it. But everything had improved. Getting naked - yeah - that had become a bit of a dream, and one to which he desired to continue "dreaming" to no end, but everything else had become so much more "livable." His two sons had brightened to their mother's "new" mood.
     "Dad - what's wrong with Mom?" He managed to close his eyelids before he rolled his eyes. It didn't occur to him at the moment to say she had returned to her intended normalcy; nor did he want to give away his secret. "Guys - she's happy. Enjoy it!"
     As a Pastor and marital counselor, he had wrestled with the forces seemingly aligned against the union of man and wife. It was laden with all manner of sacramental realities - procreation - actually working with God to create new members of the Kingdom; the Eucharist itself, in which Christ takes His faithful into Himself, calling them his Bride - all of which Scripture specifically said the satan attacks. The tranquility - the peace that passes all understanding - he was simply amazed at what his somewhat clumsy efforts had produced. But after a few weeks, the thought hit - "Why not share this?" He thought of the old Stephen King story, written under a pseudonym, about the time the demons went on strike, and things starting to go right in the world.
     That thought created all the problems.
     No matter what happened, he would not implicate his friend and Church member. The guy had 6 kids, and the contract to supply the city's water supply with chlorine. He had shared his find with him. His friend was never under suspicion. He made sure of that! His mistake had been a posting to Facebook about the results of his find. He couldn't accurately measure the amount necessary for the city's water supply, but what he did estimate seemed apparent that it had the effect he had hoped. Men were returning to Church in numbers unimagined. Women were friendly again. A local columnist (a woman, no less - had written about the transformation. Civil discourse was as it was decades ago - before the present angst. Another wrote - albeit being of another generation - about it being a "step backward" into a much better time.
     Unfortunately, the changes it brought about had alarmed Her Honor the Mayor, an avowed lesbian, and one thing led to another, and now the biggest feminist in the entire state, although married, was his judge. His ministry was ruined, his counseling on the side likewise. His wife was back to her old self, and had managed to turn his sons' one visit to him in prison, into a family fiasco. She had converted them into hating him. All because he really loved his bride more than anything but His Lord.
     The irony was not lost on him.
     His lawyer understood he was damned if he did, damned if he didn't, and went along with his client's decision for a decision from the judge alone, sans jury. Both of them understood the dire ramifications.
     His lawyer came up with a rather unique suggestion. Prepare some canned pasta sauce with the balanga plant, formulation, and we shall give it to the judge to try before she makes her determination. "It's our only real shot" said his lawyer. His bail had been beyond normal, but his house had secured it. He went home and began his preparation.
     His lawyer hesitated for a moment before he presented the jar of sauce to the judge with the suggestion that she or her husband plan spaghetti as dinner. The judge was taken aback. His lawyer did not beg, but politely pleaded. The judge, against all hopes, agreed, and postponed her judgment until the next day.
     The news was electric. Feminist everywhere were denouncing the judge, the mayor was all over the local news denouncing the decision. But the judge, in an interview, defended her decision:
     "He did NOT poison the water supply. My husband convinced me of that fact last night."

     Our second contribution comes from longtime reader furball, a.k.a. Tim Turner:

JANUARY 27th, 2047
     Michael Whedon lurched up from his computer and raced past his cat to get to the bathroom before he yaked all over his $3600/month Silicon Valley's apartment floor.
     He made it.
     The pizza and beer he'd consumed hours before ejaculated themselves into his toilet in an impressive display of biological imperatives that Michael was ill-equipped to appreciate. His articulated op-ed sounded something like, "Blecccchhhh!" with numerous coughs afterward, as he tasted the acid flux of his tummy and kneeled in front of his toilet.
     But he'd done it! Even as he passed out and his head banged against the rim of the toilet, he smiled, thinking he'd proved that the Higgs Boson wasn't massless and *did* have a non-zero constant value in vacuum!
     Even in his sex-deprived, pizza-laden and drunken stupor, Michael - "Dweeb" to his closest friends - had the thought, "I *did* sort of cheat that co-sine, though, right?"
JANUARY 27th, 2053
     The latest poll results glared up at Gerry Martin from his data cube. There were numbers skewed for sex and political bias and party affiliation and values (whatever the hell those were) and heck knows what all that showed. . . he was gonna lose. In fact, he was gonna lose the Caifornia Senate race in Biblical proportions. Gerry took a moment to look up from his I-Pod 38 to look out the window of his limo and shiver.
     But such is the determination of men of faith, determination, money and corruption that, within weeks after reading an obscure scientific article by one Michael Whedon, G.M! had become the proponent of galactic (a metaphor) conquest!
     Gerry Martin, dapper (idiot) junior Senator from California, became the spokesperson for the "Enter Galactic Project," [sic and sick] and succeeded in securing a $1.3 trillion contract for intergalactic exploration.
January 27th, 2059
     $1.3 trillion has become $5.2 trillion. Nobody's really complaining because California fires and sexual scandals are garnering headlines.
March 18th, 2081
     The crew of the Far Horizons, the ship built on the drunken, deluded and defiled imaginings of Michael Whedon, and funded by the power-hungry sociopathy of Gerry Martin just 28 years before, zoomed towards destiny.
     Here's the thing: people do get what they deserve. There is an invisible hand. God might have a sense of humor, and boy, are you in trouble if he does, because that means he knows what you were thinking and you're gonna get it.
March 19th, 2081
     Every light and meter and metric and science-looking thingy on board the Far Horizons bleeped.
     I mean, they just went CRAZY!
     The captain looked in alarm at his instruments and then was sucking on an ice cream cone that resembled his memory of his mother's teats. The First Officer. . . well, imagine what you will of German sausages. It got worse from there.
     The Far Horizons had found and apparently penetrated a Higgs Boson - based black hole. . . and she didn't like it one bit.
     "Thus, milords, we can see that the crew of this ship, while - let's face it - are idiots - were just serving other idiots who, if they were left to continue their idiotic ways, would sooner or later destroy the universe!"
     There is a mist. You thought you figured it out and knew what was going on. Morgan Freeman kind of appeared, right?
     "SIRS! If I may! Allow me to speak for...
     ZAP! DEAD!
     smoking remains of Morgan Freeman.
     This is fairly serious.
     Paying attention to the date, are we, now? Ok.
     Look. It seems official. There's a pretty powerful-looking judge up there. And if that wasn't enough, Morgan Freeman is a little pile of ash on the floor, ok? These guys are serious.
     There's a jury over there. I can't tell who they are, but they look like a combination of pop-tarts, the thing Bill Cosby used to advertise for, and icky, bony, fleshy, wormy things that would leap down your throat and go for your intestines, lungs or bowels or whatever parts of your body that make you gag, ok?
     And they're pissed.
     "Milords!" says an incredibly persuasive robed figure suddenly striding in front of you: "THESE PEOPLE," and he points and turns at each of the crew members of the Far Horizons, "have destroyed the arrow of time."
     His voice drops into the mist of thought as the resolution of everything you've ever believed.
     "God's plan . . . " (the dramatic pause almost makes your heart stop) "IS time!"
     Who can argue with that? jees What?
     Turning to YOU - every member of the Far Horizons crew - he points a finger and says, "YOU broke God's law, you broke time!" He strides a bit and then turns to YOU - personally - one more time, and says, "You know that don't you?"
     Behind you, a guy you didn't pay much attention to during the voyage says, "Wait!"
     Now you know you're in some sort of weird thing because he looks like Elmer Fudd and he walks toward the angelic figure and says, "Ma'am? If I understand things correctly, you gave us free will. And if that's true, we can't be tried for anything we're doing, because we are being the creatures you created us to be."
     "You know that's not all of you all the time," says the creature from the bench.
     She then smiles such a beatific smile on you that you melt and remember every trip you ever made with a hopeful heart:
     "I know you didn't know where you were going. I know some of you were guided by greed, power and lust. But I know you - as a people - are guided by curiosity and wonder."
     "MILORDS!" shouts the guy that you know recognize is the son of a bitch that's trying to put you away forever.
     Pointing an imperious finger at the Elmer Fudd crewmember, the prosecutorial vision intones, "Free will is NOT a get out of jail free card! IF a man chooses to break a law, the argument that he is exercising free will is not a legitimate defense. The law was created before the man! It is its own sanctity. It IS the law and free will is no excuse! Instead, breaking it is PROOF that the man is a renegade and deserving of punishment!"
THEN March 29th, 1981
     Who could have imagined Elmer Fudd would . . .
     The prosecutor turned to the judge and said, "My Lord, it is obvious that these humans have transgressed the will of God."
     The Elmer guy stood there, crestfallen and shame-faced.
     The woman - that beatific vision that is more than I can ever express, describe, aspire to or comprehend, said:
     "I AM NOT SURE!" Then, she looked down with an imperiousness beyond measure at the little Elmer Fudd guy and demanded, "What were you doing when you embarked on this trip? Why did you try to undo the laws of everything God hath made?"
     "Ma'am," he said. "I was just checking."

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Winter Of All Discontent

     Yes, “The Winter of Our Discontent” is the title of a famous John Steinbeck novel. But it’s also from the opening of one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, the one whose villain-protagonist was Richard III of England, who rose to power shortly after the conclusion of the Wars of the Roses.

     Before I get into the meat of this morning’s tirade, let’s put calipers on that strange term villain-protagonist. How does a candidate qualify for inclusion in that set? Here are my criteria:

  • He must be in the public eye, whether by his own doing or another’s.
  • He must be consumed with desire for something to which he has no right.
  • His motives must be entirely self-centered.
  • He must succeed in driving events, whether successfully or not.

     In Shakespeare’s tale, Richard of Gloucester engineers a complex plot rife with betrayals and murders to become King Richard III of England. He is Shakespeare’s archetype of a pure sociopath, to whom all other individuals are either tools or obstacles and nothing more. His personal calculus omits consideration of “right” and “wrong.” All that matters to him is his objective. Richard III’s objective was unchallenged and absolute power.

     There are a lot of villain-protagonists running around loose these days. I’m not about to list them all for you; that’s what the newspapers are for, even if they habitually get it wrong. But then, the Legacy Media should properly be numbered among them, which serves to explain why their lists tend not to satisfy.

     Never before has so thick a torrent of accusations been mounted against individuals in the public eye who were previously generally admired. The great majority of those accusations, as my Gentle Readers will already know, are about conduct related to sex. Moreover, the media have been treating the accusations as truthful in nearly every case, even when there’s a total absence of evidence and sound reasons to believe that the accusation is insincere if not totally untruthful.

     Such accusations aren’t a brand new phenomenon, of course. Indeed, the foundation for them has been under construction for decades, perhaps since Tawana Brawley. Their veracity is of essentially no importance. What matters about them is their ability to command public attention, to cast doubt on the characters of the accused, and to add fuel to the fires of militant feminism, which suffered a heavy defeat on November 8, 2016.

     Sex is one of the principal battlegrounds of the day. It didn’t become a battleground because people have come to hate sex. It did so because the Left hopes to make political gains by militarizing it.

     Everyone’s familiar with the “Black Lives Matter” nonsense, and the flurry of claims that “white cops shoot blacks on sight and get away with it.” That’s not true. It never has been true. Today, for a white policeman to shoot and kill a black man, whether justifiably or not, is an almost guaranteed career-ender. Ask Darren Wilson.

     The BLM types know it isn’t true. But the accusation is tactically golden for them. Every time a black suspect dies at police hands, the tumult is amplified, and their “cause” gains power. It gains from sympathetic media treatment. It also gains from an amplified reluctance on the part of police and the authorities to which they answer to act against black criminals. And it’s been going on for longer than most people are aware.

     Crystal Gail Mangum wasn’t shot by anyone, but she grasped the media trends and hoped to capitalize on them. So did the disgraced Michael Nifong. And the Left, especially in its academic strongholds, was overjoyed by it all, while it lasted.

     Just now we’re seeing a host of revelations about anti-Trump machinations within the Justice Department, both during the campaign and afterward. Some are utterly shocking. Others are of lesser though still disturbing magnitude. All point toward an unpleasant conclusion: that the DoJ has been thoroughly politicized. Its barons appear unconcerned with justice as ordinary people understand it. Rather, they seek to assure the ascendancy of particular politicians and policies: left-liberals in every case.

     Well, why not? If “the personal is political,” as the Left has maintained for decades, why should “justice,” that bourgeois phantasm that protects only the interests of the white capitalist patriarchy, be allowed to stand in the way of the Left’s agenda? Does it make sense to demand that accused individuals be treated fairly, given a presumption of innocence an the right to confront their accusers, rather than just asking Martin Y. Latsis’s questions?

     Do not look in the file of incriminating evidence to see whether or not the accused rose up against the Soviets with arms or words. Ask him instead to which class he belongs, what is his background, his education, his profession. These are the questions that will determine the fate of the accused. That is the meaning and essence of the Red Terror.

     It’s clear which course the Left, the Party of Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent Government, has chosen.

     I hope you’ll pardon me for what follows. It strikes me as a resuscitation that’s long overdue: a piercingly profound summation from a writer and thinker whose profundity sometimes led him into the darkness, yet who always managed to return to the light. I must quote at some length from his best known novel.

     A plague is ravaging the Algerian city of Oran. The gates of the city are shut; no one is permitted to leave. Jean Tarrou, who has been composing a journal of the plague and will soon be cut down by it, tells physician Dr. Bernard Rieux, alongside whom he has worked to care for the infected, of his life before coming to Oran. He speaks at length of his father, with whom he had good relations throughout his childhood. But he came to view “that worthy man,” a prosecuting attorney, as “a red-robed murderer:”

     “In his red gown he was another man, no longer genial or good-natured; his mouth spewed out long, turgid phrases like an endless stream of snakes. I realized he was clamoring for the prisoner’s death, telling the jury that they owed it to society to find him guilty; he went so far as to demand that the man should have his head cut off. Not exactly in those words, I admit. ‘He must pay the supreme penalty,’ was the formula. But the difference, really, was slight, and the result the same. He had the head he asked for. Only of course it wasn’t he who did the actual job. I, who saw the whole business through to its conclusion, felt a far closer, far more terrifying intimacy with that wretched man than my father can ever have felt. Nevertheless, it fell to him, in the course of his duties, to be present at what’s politely termed the prisoner's last moments, but what would be better called murder in its most despicable form.”

     Tarrou resolves not to be a murderer, but his inclinations lead him astray by involving him in bloody revolutionary struggles throughout Europe:

     To my mind the social order around me was based on the death sentence, and by righting the established order I'd be fighting against murder. That was my view, others had told me so, and I still think that this belief of mine was substantially true. I joined forces with a group of people I then liked, and indeed have never ceased to like. I spent many years in close co-operation with them, and there's not a country in Europe in whose struggles I haven't played a part. But that's another story.
     "Needless to say, I knew that we, too, on occasion, passed sentences of death. But I was told that these few deaths were inevitable for the building up of a new world in which murder would cease to be. That also was true up to a point, and maybe I'm not capable of standing fast where that order of truths is concerned.”

     The horror of the thing grows steadily within him:

     “I came to understand that I, anyhow, had had plague through all those long years in which, paradoxically enough, I'd believed with all my soul that I was fighting it. I learned that I had had an indirect hand in the deaths of thousands of people; that I'd even brought about their deaths by approving of acts and principles which could only end that way. Others did not seem embarrassed by such thoughts, or anyhow never voiced them of their own accord.
     “But I was different; what I'd come to know stuck in my gorge. I was with them and yet I was alone. When I spoke of these matters they told me not to be so squeamish; I should remember what great issues were at stake. And they advanced arguments, often quite impressive ones, to make me swallow what none the less I couldn't bring myself to stomach. I replied that the most eminent of the plague-stricken, the men who wear red robes, also have excellent arguments to justify what they do, and once I admitted the arguments of necessity and force majeure put forward by the less eminent, I couldn't reject those of the eminent. To which they retorted that the surest way of playing the game of the red robes was to leave to them the monopoly of the death penalty. My reply to this was that if you gave in once, there was no reason for not continuing to give in. It seems to me that history has borne me out; today there's a sort of competition who will kill the most. They're all mad over murder and they couldn't stop killing men even if they wanted to.”

     Tarrou’s ultimate conclusion, perhaps the plainest statement of the nature of innocence that can be made, is thus:

     “All I maintain is that on this earth there are plagues and there are victims, and it’s up to us, so far as possible, not to join forces with the plagues. That may sound simple to the point of childishness; I can’t judge if it's simple, but I know it’s true. You see, I’d heard such quantities of arguments, which very nearly turned my head, and turned other people's heads enough to make them approve of murder; and I'd come to realize that all our troubles spring from our failure to use plain, clean-cut language.”

     [Albert Camus, The Plague]

     Ponder that for a moment or two.

     “Do not join forces with the plagues,” Camus says. And that to that end, one must insist on “plain, clean-cut language.” That’s not the only time that sentiment has been voiced, of course; George Orwell expressed it at about the same time. No doubt others have said similar things both before and after that. But to Camus it was a swordstroke that cut through all the representations and pretensions of all the “revolutionaries” of his time.

     To escape “joining forces with the plagues,” one must see clearly. One must insist that others speak clearly; those who refuse must be dismissed with prejudice, along with all their nostrums. And above all, one must not accept anyone’s rationalizations for deeds the doer would condemn from others.

     With that as the backdrop, contrast Richard III, the sociopath to whom all persons are either tools or obstacles, with the accusers who parade among us seeking the ruination of persons high and low, charging them with every imaginable crime, from tawdry comments to murder, entirely without evidence. Which is more openly and honestly a villain? Which would you find it easier to condemn and oppose?

     The fusillades of our time don’t conclude with the lopping off of heads. At least, not often. But they do involve the ruination of public figures, often by accusation alone.

     No standard is maintained in these exchanges of fire. Accusations about conduct alleged to have taken place forty years ago, without witnesses, are treated as if the deeds had been done that very day. Often no item of evidence is offered; some of what “evidence” there is has proved to be falsified. And more often than not, what’s deemed to matter most is the accused’s political alignment.

     Yes, I hold the Left and their media handmaidens principally responsible for the mess, but the Establishment Right has been complicit, whether by cowardice or by its efforts to maintain the popularly rejected status quo. That it should have collaborated, even to the mildest degree, in the Left’s attempt to overturn the clear verdict of the November 2016 presidential election makes it equally guilty of the Left’s crimes. It must not be forgiven – and we will not be forgiven should we let it pass.

     Is it any wonder that Americans have generally retreated from politics? That they disdain to trust in any politician’s claims? That they’ve looked to total outsiders with increasing frequency for an alteration to the status quo? Common citizens have as much as said “A plague on all your houses,” for plagues of abuse – of our intelligence, of our senses, of our memories, and of our credulity – are what we’ve endured from all sides.

     The political establishment has brought judgment upon itself. The media are complicit in their skullduggeries at every stage. To say that we’re “discontented” with the lot of them barely touches the surface of the thing. Many of us want to see them swing.

     Richard III died in the Battle of Bosworth. In Shakespeare’s account, he was slain in single combat against the leader of the insurrection against him: Henry Tudor, Duke of Richmond, who was to become King Henry VII. Historical sources say that there was no such single combat. However, they do attest to his end as a king in battle, leading his own forces: a nobler end than one might have expected for a villain-protagonist. The villain-protagonists of our era must be allowed no such fates.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Some Unemployed Story Ideas For You

     Enough with politics and public policy for the moment. There are plenty of outlets that will oversupply you with those things. We here at Liberty’s Torch are about filling under-served needs. So today let’s address the yawning void at the core of far too many would-be writers: lack of “an idea.”

     Herewith, a few ideas which, to the best of my knowledge, no one has used yet. There’s a reason for that, of course. If you succeed in making use of any of them, I’d be happy to host your story – under your byline, of course – here at Liberty’s Torch.

1. The Beauty Industry Grinds To A Halt!

     It is 2050, and all the “old” cosmetics are gone at last. Foundation, blusher, mascara, eye liner, lipstick – all are now permanent only, and can only be removed by the use of a specially formulated cleansing agent. At first women were delighted, for they no longer had to fret about anything “running” or “smearing.” But then there was some fretting after all, for mistakes in application do happen, and the cleansing agent is not without cost.

     But wait...what’s this? A devastating terrorist strike against the makers of the cleansing agent? Does anyone else know how to make the stuff? If not, what will happen when the current supply is exhausted? Will women never again know the joy of putting on makeup – or of taking it off?

2. There Are Laws, After All.

     For the first time in human history, the Far Horizons had succeeded in exceeding the speed-of-light limit...but the jubilation of the crew was short-lived, for almost at once the mighty vessel was wrenched out of temporal reality. Its crew found themselves in a mysterious chamber filled with the accoutrements of a courtroom. The faces in the jury box were veiled, indistinct. At the judge’s bench sat a being of great beauty that could only be an angel.

     What will the penalty be for violating God’s own speed limit? A period in Hell? Community service? Or perhaps just a few decades of the Rosary for all concerned?

3. “We Want To Be Alone!”

     Australia is gone. That’s right: the Land Down Under has vanished from...well, not from “the map,” as the maps show exactly what they always have. Rather, it’s vanished from the perception of aircraft, ships at sea, even from satellites in orbit over where it’s supposed to be.

     There’s more: Emigrants from the vanished island nation have started to appear at nearby ports. They have no idea what happened to them. One moment they were in Sydney, or Melbourne, or Perth; the next they were on this mysterious, robotically piloted ship with an unknown destination. They share a single common characteristic: None of them were Australian-born. All were recent immigrants to Australia.

     Attempt after attempt to reach the great island inexplicably fail. Radio hails are uniformly met with silence. Has Australia been captured by malevolent alien forces, to be used as a beachhead for the conquest of all of Earth? Or have the Aussies finally decided to tell the rest of the world “G’dae mate, and sod off!” -- ?

4. No One Must Ever Know.

     Marlowe plies the world’s most controversial trade: “biographical archeologist.” He specializes in unearthing shocking facts about famous historical figures. His books about the ones on whom he’s uncovered something surprising and unsavory have made him rich, internationally famous...and greatly disliked by those who venerate such figures, or hope to be remembered among them someday.

     But Marlowe’s latest discovery is one that could unsettle more than a billion people, perhaps to the point of mass violence: Mahatma Gandhi was fabulously wealthy, owing to his ownership of a chain of steakhouses. Could he bring himself to suppress that discovery in the name of the “greater good?” And if he reveals it, will powerful forces – perhaps the ones that strove to ruin him for revealing that Winston Churchill actually hated cigars – move against him at last?

5. The “Stepford Plague.”

     It started slowly. A termagant awoke one morning and found herself unable to insult her husband. Another found herself, against all her previous inclinations, being pleasant and accommodating toward her mate. Other wives of their acquaintance experienced similar transformations, despite fighting the new impulses with all their fury. Their husbands were initially wary, unable to believe the evidence of their senses. Yet there it was: their wives were treating them with respect and appreciation!

     The disease spread like wildfire...and a disease it was: a virus that spread from one infectee to the next through ordinary conversation. Practically overnight, millions of unhappy homes were transformed into temples of domestic tranquility where no harsh word ever passed between husband and wife. The War Between The Sexes was coming to an abrupt end, due to a biological agent that could not be countervailed and whose origin could not be determined!

     The divorce industry and the “family courts” teetered at the brink of calamity. Certainly something had to be done before this pillar of the American economy should crumble and fall – but what? And by whom?

     That’s enough for today, I think. Now all you aspiring writers: it’s time to get to work. Your excuses have expired. I want to see some fiction pronto, and the sillier the better!

"Once is Happenstance,...

Twice is coincidence, the third time is enemy action." James Bond, Goldfinger.

That's where we're at - here's the rundown of "inexplicable" events.

Here's the pair in the most recent chain of events.

Not the first time someone in government was led around by a loose-mouthed woman.

Peter? Just a heads-up - a woman will NOT take the fall for this. She will manage to turn on you, putting you up as the initiator and sole culprit.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Quickies: Figuring On The Downside

     I have the great good fortune to be old, married, and content with my lot. Moreover, I grew up before contemporary, “gender-war” feminism had gotten off the ground. So my memories of my years dating and mating are generally unthreatening ones. But today’s young men are in a quite different environment, sexually, culturally, and legally.

     Many young women have absorbed the notion that “he’s an oppressor,” and therefore deserves whatever she (or any other woman) might do to him. Many others have decided that the only reason to have anything to do with a man is to pump him for what she can get out of him. Still others, having married and decided that they “made a mistake,” see nothing wrong with punishing their husbands, or ex-husbands, for their own errors. Some even derive pleasure from it.

     What percentage of single women fall into those categories?

     An old parable, often used to argue against admitting Muslims to these United States, runs thus: There’s a bowl of M&Ms® before you. You like M&Ms® and are minded to enjoy a few...but someone whose word is good has told you that in that bowl of hundreds of M&Ms® there are ten that have been laced with cyanide, any one of which would suffice to kill you. Do you eat from the bowl, or do you pass on by?

     I think most of us would pass on by, no matter how much we might love M&Ms. The downside is simply too great to risk.

     Now, where you see M&Ms® in the above, substitute single young women. There are probably hundreds in the neighborhood of any given single young man. How great does the percentage of self-absorbed, evil minded women – women psychologically ready, willing, and able to make a man’s life a living hell – need to be to persuade a single young man to abstain from romantic explorations and “go his own way?”

     Do prevailing cultural currents or the state of “family law” have any bearing on such a decision? What about demographic factors, religion, education, and so forth?


Parallel Or Orthogonal?

     My esteemed colleague Dystopic, also known lately as Thales – you know, champ, this moniker-shifting would be unnecessary if you would just use your own name – has penned a delightful piece about the Left’s occupancy of a “parallel universe.” Those of us old enough to remember the “bearded Spock” episode on Star Trek are especially tickled by the notion...but maybe “parallel” isn’t the right word to describe the difference in orientation between mundane reality and Leftists’ preferred conceptions.

     Maybe the Left’s habitat is orthogonal to ours.

     Now, for a “universe” of any sort to be stable, its contents must conform to some set of physical laws. Moreover, we would expect those laws to be consistent with one another – i.e., they would not contradict one another’s dictates. After all, if Law X is contradicted by Law Y, the context of application being identical, how could either one be a “law?”

     When cosmologists speculate about a parallel universe, we normally imagine that it would conform to laws much like those in our universe, but with changes in one or more of the various fundamental constants. That’s a comfortable way to speculate; it allows us to import our knowledge of this universe into the one we’ve imagined. But it’s also rather limiting – and if there’s anything the Left purely hates, it’s a limit on them. Leftists demand the absolute and unqualified right to contradict themselves whenever they feel like it.

     Take marriage as an illustrative case. For how long did Leftists sneer at marriage as an outmoded, confining, unnecessary institution? That attitude goes back about a century, to the Bolshevik revolutionaries who seized control of Russia toward the end of World War I. But when homosexuals demanded the “right” to marry within their sex, it became the most important issue of our time.

     Or consider the Boy Scouts. The Left has never approved of the Scouts; it’s too patriotic and Christian-normed an organization for their tastes. But when girls and homosexuals demanded the “right” to become Boy Scouts and Scout leaders, suddenly nothing else mattered.

     Race provides an even better case. Race, to the Left, is denounced as illusory whenever anyone dares to notice and mention the statistical differences between the sexes. Yet the Left eagerly embraces the concept of race whenever it can be used to press for more government spending, or for the invasion of private demesnes on the grounds of “non-discrimination.”

     Finally, consider economics. The Left deems capitalism exploitative and destructive, and wants it condemned to death. Yet capitalism – the latitude of free men to produce and trade with one another – is the one and only source of human wealth...and the Left also wants to “redistribute” huge gobs of wealth, far larger than any welfare state has ever contemplated, to its favored activities and groups.

     If the Left occupies some universe other than ours, it’s a place of absolute and unending chaos. Its ruling “law,” if I may abuse the word this way, is that the Left shall get what it wants, no matter how badly that contradicts what it said it wanted five minutes earlier.

     Of course, the real problem isn’t that Leftists seek to occupy some universe other than the one we know; it’s that they seek to transform this one into the imagined one of their aspirations.

     In our universe, the thing is impossible. Marriage has a definite purpose and meaning. Boys and girls differ greatly, and developmental institutions must segregate them to some extent. Race either exists or it doesn’t. Wealth that free men have not created by their insight, cooperation, and effort cannot be distributed, much less redistributed.

     None of that fazes the Left. Its demands never cease and never moderate, regardless of any and all demonstrations of impossibility. Indeed, one could easily suspect that their impossibility is why Leftists promote them.

     A multitude of demands that are impossible to satisfy will create the conditions upon which tyrannies thrive.

     I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft’s conception of Cthulhu, the ancient “god” of evil who waits in R’lyeh for the stars to be right for its return to our world. Cthulhu and his brethren seek to teach men the “freedom” of moving beyond good, evil, and all conceptions of law:

     When the stars were right, They could plunge from world to world through the sky; but when the stars were wrong, They could not live. But although They no longer lived, They would never really die. They all lay in stone houses in Their great city of R’lyeh, preserved by the spells of mighty Cthulhu for a glorious resurrection when the stars and the earth might once more be ready for Them. But at that time some force from outside must serve to liberate Their bodies. The spells that preserved Them intact likewise prevented Them from making an initial move, and They could only lie awake in the dark and think whilst uncounted millions of years rolled by. They knew all that was occurring in the universe, but Their mode of speech was transmitted thought. Even now They talked in Their tombs. When, after infinities of chaos, the first men came, the Great Old Ones spoke to the sensitive among them by moulding their dreams; for only thus could Their language reach the fleshly minds of mammals.

          Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around small idols which the Great Ones shewed them; idols brought in dim aeras from dark stars. That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.

     Of course, the “freedom” of those who are murdered is zero, but what of that? Only small minds would cavil at such a difficulty.

     So it is with the Left: endlessly dreaming of a time when all laws have been set aside, and their wills made omnipotent. The supreme irony, of course, is that it claims to be the “reality-based” community. Reality will never be quite that disordered, the protests and demands of the Left notwithstanding. Or perhaps it will be, in some universe so dominated by chaos that even demands at right angles to one another can be satisfied simultaneously. But as Dystopic / Thales notes, that’s not the universe we live in. God be thanked and praised for that.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Friends, Or Allies At A Distance?

     Clearly, it is futile for the Church to try to mollify a hatred so ancient and so deep as the Jewish animus against Christianity. Despite all the sentimental rhetoric to the contrary — such as pious nonsense about “the Judaeo-Christian tradition” — Judaism and Christianity are radically opposed over the most important thing of all: Jesus Christ, who commands us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, and to love our enemies, which does not mean mistaking them for friends. – Joseph Sobran

     The above is one of Joseph Sobran’s most egregious statements. Coming from so intelligent and perceptive a writer, it causes any man of good will to wonder: Did he temporarily take leave of his reason? Or was there something else at work that spurred him to say something so intemperate, so distant from Christian sentiment?

     I’ve puzzled over it for a while. Sobran’s criticisms of Israel as a political entity and open expressions of support for a number of Holocaust deniers got him ostracized by National Review and the larger community of conservative commentators. After that schism opened, Sobran’s columns appeared only in a few low-circulation journals, most of which were aimed specifically at Catholic readers. Is it possible that Sobran allowed resentment over his exclusion from his previous outlets to warp his attitudes toward Judaism and Jews?

     Yes, it’s possible...but there’s more to the subject, and some of it is moderately distressing.

     First let us ask whether there is a true “Jewish animus against Christianity.” I’ve never encountered any reason to think so. I’ve known a great many Jews. Both of the women I’ve married have been Jewish. But it’s possible to interpret Jewish reserve toward Christians, which is real, in a negative way.

     Consider the following brief exchange:

Young Jewish woman: Mom, I’ve just met the most terrific guy.
Her mother: Is he Jewish?

     That derails quite a number of mother-daughter conversations. It happens more often than you’d think. It happened to me.

     Now, religion and tradition are important. Christians of all denominations are “encouraged,” if you will, to “marry within the faith.” Catholics are especially so exhorted, in part because of our doctrines on marital fidelity, divorce, and abortion. So we ought not to take it amiss that Jewish parents would like their progeny to wed other Jews. They have as much right to want to continue their faith and its traditions as anyone else.

     The matter is clouded by the many centuries over which Jews suffered at Christians’ hands. (Yes, they’ve also suffered at Muslims’ hands, but in the U.S. Christians are many and Muslims are far.) It’s understandable that some unease over that history of persecution should have seeped down the years, especially since there would be contention over in which faith (if either) the children should be raised.

     A further complication arises from Jews’ quasi-ethnic identity. Even purely secular Jews feel their Jewishness to be an important characteristic, a key element in their heritage. In combination with the influence above, that lends itself to a certain defensiveness about “our people.” In a remarkable albeit ludicrous illustration of this influence, Betty Friedan, an avowed atheist, held an “atheistic bar mitzvah” for her son. There’s Judaism – the Jewish religious faith – and there’s Jewishness, and the rejection of one doesn’t lead to the dissolution of the other.

     Today more than at any other time in Western history, persons of all ethnicities exhibit a heightened defensiveness about their heritages. There’s no reason the Jewish people should be an exception. Take it from an old mick-wop papist.

     In the decades since World War II, American Christians generally have exhibited a certain protectiveness about American Jews, Jews worldwide, and the state of Israel. It’s part of our national heritage to celebrate and protect ethnic identities and sincerely held religious beliefs. Sometimes that gets us into a pickle, as it has with Islam and Muslims. More, Christianity today comes in so many varieties that we tend to be ecumenical about the whole thing – including the Chosen People from whom Our Lord sprang two millennia ago.

     That cross-creedal ecumenism isn’t symmetrical. More Christians feel it than Jews. But then, there are many more of us, we’re in no danger of extinction, and we haven’t been hounded out of every country on Earth. Were the circumstances reversed, I have no doubt that we’d be a little wary of others not of our faith. Perhaps more than a little.

     A matter of special interest concerns the Messianic Jews. These are persons of Jewish descent, many of them originally sincere practitioners of Judaism, who have accepted Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. That separates Messianics from every other variety of Jews. However, Messianics continue to consider themselves Jews, which upsets many non-Messianics.

     To Messianics, their heritage plus their maintenance of the greater part of Judaic belief and practice qualifies them to be Jews. To non-Messianics, the acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah is disqualifying; Judaic doctrine holds that the promised Messiah has not yet come. (There are some exceptions, most notably the Lubavitcher Chassidim, but they’re true outliers in may respects. Among other things, they regard most other Jews as not sufficiently religious to be “real” Jews.) But the religious aspect of the thing is apparently not as important as the cultural / traditional one: completely non-religious Jews, utterly uninterested in Judaism as such, have reacted to my mention of Messianics with the immediate, even vehement insistence that “they’re not Jews.” It seems there’s more at work there than religious differences.

     Religion, tradition, ethnicity, and matters tangential to those things are all “hot buttons” in our time. Considering that Christians feel – and rightfully so – that there’s an ongoing campaign to delegitimize our faith and push us “out of the public square,” it’s even easier to understand how the Jewish people, badly mistreated throughout history and few in number wherever they might be found, should feel wary about us, despite our many expressions of solidarity with our Jewish neighbors and our effusive support for Israel. Memories of persecution are long-lasting. Too many a proffered hand has concealed a joy-buzzer...or a weapon.

     Of course, it doesn’t help that the growing “alt-right” community has been infested with open anti-Semites. As I wrote just yesterday, that’s a great black mark against it, and could ultimately prove fatal to its political aims. And Mormons should really cut it out with the posthumous “baptisms” of deceased Jews, which are blasphemous, impudent, and offensive to the families of the deceased. Neither are matters made more pleasant when an exchange such as this erupts into public view, but there too, a certain amount of forbearance is called for...perhaps more than I exhibited on the cited occasion.

Not Completely Leaving, Just Slowing Down

I've been ridiculously over-busy, for a retired person. I've enjoyed it - blogging, writing, interacting with other people.

But, I'm planning to spend more time on essential things that need my attention: finishing my book, outlining my next effort, getting my home into some sort of order, enjoying my grandchildren, putting out the online church bulletin, building up my part-time business (energy consultant), and - perhaps more importantly - getting my fitness/health up to an acceptable level.

So, I'll be more restrained about posting - 1-2 times a week, unless something comes up that prompts me to engage more often. I discuss my reasons for this decision here.

What is Louche Behavior?

I get it, I really do. I looked it up, and it is a decent description of what much of the recent accusations of 'sexual harassment' amount to.

The dictionary definition (from WordNik):
  • adj. Of questionable taste or morality; decadent: "The rebuilt [Moscow hotel] is home to the flashy, louche Western disco Manhattan Express” ( Liesl Schillinger).
What's fascinating is how often the Elite are using that term, in preference to some alternatives:

  • Crude
  • Sleazy
  • Exploitative
  • Immoral
  • Decadent
  • Vile
Would that be because too many of those words have been - er - contaminated with their use by us Deplorables? That many of the non-religious have issues with using words often employed by those who attend church?

Could it be that the Elite are APPALLED by the fact that the only real reason to condemn such behavior, in view of their acceptance of the "One Grope Rule" is that using one's power position to get your damp hands on nubile young women (or men) is immoral - oh, NO! A JUDGEMENT CALL!

They can't even blame the women's reluctance to be groped on their racism, or sexism, or fascism, their usual go-to chants.

The WORST part, to the Progressive Elites (trademark pending) is that the offenders were such NICE donors - um, supporters of the Progressive Faith. How COULD such right-thinking people harbor a nasty little propensity for truly vile behavior!

A Little Peace On The Side

     [The Donald Trump / Elizabeth Warren war of words over a Trump tweet about Kirsten Gillibrand got me thinking, for the first time in some while, about the Left’s harping on “code words.” Therefore, I decided to repost the following essay, which originally appeared at Eternity Road on September 12, 2006. -- FWP]

     In its attacks on the Right, the Left frequently employs the notion of "code words:" phrases of innocent appearance that conceal sinister intentions. For instance, we have this from two prominent Embarrassments-at-large to the United States Congress:

     Politicians know this trick well. In 1994, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., likened tax cuts to racial epithets, saying, "It's not 'spic' or 'nigger' anymore. They just say, 'Let's cut taxes.'" Later that year, Rep. Major Owens, D-N.Y., used similar language to describe the Republicans' Contract With America: "These are people who are practicing genocide with a smile; they're worse than Hitler." [statements made during the debate over the Contract With America]

     Ann Coulter, the great conservative provocateuse, characterized such rhetoric thus:

     When arguments are premised on lies, there is no foundation for debate. You end up conceding to half the lies simply to focus on the lies of Holocaust-denial proportions. Kind and well meaning people find themselves afraid to talk about politics. Any sentient person has to be concerned that he might innocently make an argument or employ a turn of phrase that will be discerned by the liberal cult as a "code word" evincing a genocidal tendency....

     Vast areas of public policy debate are treated as indistinguishable from using the N-word (aka: the worst offense against mankind....The spirit of the First Amendment has been effectively repealed for conservative speech by a censorious, accusatory mob. Truth cannot prevail because whole categories of thought are deemed thought crimes. [From Slander: Liberal Lies About The American Right]

     This use of the "code word" notion as a sword is generally understood among persons of conservative and libertarian inclinations, but less attention goes to the Left's use of code words as a shield: a screen of attractive but irrelevant concepts deployed to prevent critical examination of something they favor.

     Consider the following, found at the head of this Web site:

     Finding peace in this world we live in seems like a daunting task. We watch as our own government is unmasked to reveal it's naked aggression, it's use of torture in the name of freedom and it's unholy alliance with corporate power and right wing religious extremists. Where are they taking our nation and and do we as a people even care anymore about peace, social justice and truth?

     Ignore the strange grammar and punctuation if you can. Ponder rather the implications of the statement, whose maker is undoubtedly in favor of "peace, social justice, and truth" her own interpretation, anyway. Read the most recent half-dozen of her posts and try to determine for yourself what her definitions of those things would be.

     They surely sound good, though, don't they?

     "Peace" by the norms of the liberals usually means surrender to socialist and communist insurrections, which they call "reform movements." "Social justice" by their lights means the erection of ever-larger transfer programs and laws that offer preferential treatment to their favored mascot-groups. "Truth" to a liberal...well, an Eternity Road reader is more than capable of judging for himself. But the terms themselves carry so pretty an aura that virtually no one is willing to compel their elucidation. So liberals get to hide their true intentions behind them: spinelessness before the march of totalitarians and thugs worldwide; exploding government spending and the ceaseless proliferation of laws that infringe upon freedom of speech, association, commerce, and the rights of private property; and the negation of objective standards by which statements of fact might be deemed pertinent to an issue and subjected to critical evaluation.

     Nobel Laureate Friedrich Hayek was especially harsh about the pseudo-concept of "social justice." Justice, he pointed out, refers to two things:

  • A state of affairs in which each individual has that which is his by right;
  • A process invoked to investigate situations alleged to be unjust and to correct them as necessary.

     The two meanings are tied together inextricably. A justice process cannot function to any advantage unless one can determine the just state of affairs toward which it must strive. But to determine that endpoint, one must concede that it once existed in reality, or that it would have existed except for an injustice that prevented it. This is impossible except by defining the rights of Man and specifying them for the particular persons in the controversy at hand. Thus, it is inherently an individualist premise; it cannot be "socialized" except by destroying the objective basis for the very thing it seeks to protect.

     Of course, socializing everything in sight is what the Left is all about. In liberals' ideal world, every imaginable human action is either compulsory or forbidden. There would nominally be "laws," but there would be administrators and commissions -- staffed wholly by liberals, of course -- with unreviewable plenipotentiary power to interpret those laws. Elections and legislatures would become meaningless; infinite power would rest in the hands of persons whose decisions could not be challenged, and who could be removed from their thrones only by death. That's the precondition for all "progress" by these "progressives'" lights.

     But for anyone to perform that analysis aloud must be prevented. It would give the game away in a rather final manner. So rather than campaign for infinite power for liberal mandarins, they prattle about "social justice," and hope that no one notices the opposition between the first word and the second.

     The thickness of the miasma that steams from such rhetoric -- accusations of "code word" employment by persons on the Right; deployment of "code word" defenses to avert critical analysis of the notions of persons on the Left -- makes it all but impossible to find a route back to wholesome, constructive discourse. Worse, calling a liberal on it is a glove hurled in his face. The fundamentally decent ones mostly lack the insight to see what their rhetoric really means. The indecent ones cannot abide the imputation that their favorite tactic is a tip to their dishonesty. Which suggests that the Era of Code Words is likely to hang around for a long time to come.

Pious, gutless suicide.

The Grenfell Tower disaster in London, by contrast [with third-world failure and stupidity], might be called a characteristically First-World horror. It was mass incineration resulting from carefully organized stupidity. At vast expense and as an act of ecological piety, the tower had been wrapped in highly flammable cladding. A lot of brain-power and organization went into turning Grenfell Tower into a disaster waiting-to-happen. In the end, all it took was an exploding freezer. The fire then grew too fast and climbed too high for the stale pale males of the London Fire Brigade to rescue dozens of trapped residents.

[Photo of flaming Grenfell Tower omitted.]

I’d call Grenfell Tower a good metaphor for the Western world as a whole. At vast expense and with conspicuous piety, we are being wrapped in the highly flammable cladding of racial and religious diversity. You can see the chaos of the Third World meeting the careful organization of the First World off the coast of Libya. Criminal gangs push vibrant non-White migrants a short distance out to sea in unseaworthy and dangerously overladen small boats. The vibrant migrants are then picked up by powerful, seaworthy European ships and carried hundreds of miles to Italy, where they begin their new lives as they intend to continue: being fed, clothed, housed and medically tended at enormous expense by European Whites.[1]

The insanity of sluicing millions of third-world into first-world countries is plain. For decades this vicious folly has been pointed out in a host of forums and yet there is no alteration in our insane course. What amounts of money have been paid, how much power and fame have been conveyed and conferred, how much stupidity is there in the human mind, and how much hatred for white Western civilization allows this fatal course to be pursued?

European woman report walking on the streets of Cairo and having their breasts grabbed by Egyptian men yet the misogyny and casual criminality of these men is welcomed in Britain where it flourished into something foul and pestilential in the case of the Rotherham sexual assaults on young British women (with the associated cowardice and malfeasance of the celebrated British police). Would that it were simply High-street titty grabbing.

The same can be said about female genital mutilation – incredibly referred to a “female circumcision” – and honor killings. Welcomed and effectively untouched by political and law enforcement officials. Are there any public warnings on the subject of honor killings? Are there any deportations of the families involved as an in terrorem? No. If there's any reference to the law of any kind it's only with the precious rights of the individual in mind, not the savagery of the complicit group. The deceased victim is deprived of what might be called a fundamental right. Why does the putative armor-clad, immutable "right to remain" take precedence over the right to keep on living? If collective responsibility is an effective method of dealing with savagery (and silent laughter at pathetic Western ways), what is the objection to employing it? It's an inconsequential change to Western life for the elites to upend their nations entirely but comparatively minor facets of our laws are simply untouchable? Really? Historic protections for a homogeneous population cannot be changed in the face of poisonous diversity?

If collective irresponsibility in the form of “family reunification” is the bleeping crown jewel of immigration policy, in the U.S. at least, what’s so terrible about collective responsibility?

Those millions of foreigners who are not parasites claiming unbelievable sums of money and services are direct competitors of white British workers and invariably the latter are driven from the workplace with the connivance or cowardice of employers trembling at the prospect of “discrimination” laws or prosecution for “hate speech” for any words that come within assegai range of stating the simplest and most obvious truths about ways of imported primitives.

As I'm wont to say, "If mass immigration of hostile savages to Western countries is the answer, what the hell was the question?"

[1] "The Pyromaniacs’ Ball: The Grenfell Tower Disaster as a Metaphor for the West." Tobias Langdon, Occidental Observer, 7/5/17.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

An Announcement: Free Fiction!

     If you’re one of the few sentient creatures in the Universe who hasn’t yet read:

     ...please be aware that from December 25 through January 1, those FIVE books will be:

Free of Charge at Smashwords!

     No matter which electronic format you prefer, you'll be able to get those books, for free, at the links above.

     I will repeat this announcement on Christmas Day.

White Identitarianism, Its Promise, And Its Peril

     Above the entrance to the church fluttered a hastily made banner. The masculine symbol had been crudely painted on a white sheet; the white flag indicated that the worshipers were white males and that blacks and women were "welcome" at their own risk. The population was now split into four mutually antagonistic segments. The separate groups began to realize that there was some point in keeping their members together in little cadres. The streets and apartment buildings were death traps.
     Inside the church the men were silent in prayer. They were led by an elderly deacon, whose inexperience and confusion were no greater or less than any in the congregation.
     "Merciful God," he prayed, "in whatever Form the various members of our flock picture You, corporal Entity or insubstantial Spirit, we ask that You guide us in this time of direst peril.
     "Brother lifts sword against brother, and brother against sister. Husband and wife are torn asunder against Your holiest ordainments. Protect us, and show us our proper response. Perhaps it is true that vengeance is solely Yours; but speak to us, then, concerning Limited Cautionary Retaliation, and other alternatives. We would see a sign, for truly we are lost in the mires of day-to-day living."
     The deacon continued his prayer, but soon there began a series of poundings on the door. The deacon stopped for just a second, looking up nervously, his hand straying to his sidearm. When nothing further happened, he finished the prayer and the members of the congregation added, if they chose, their amens.
     At the end of the service the men rose to leave. They stood at the door, in no hurry to abandon the sanctuary of the church. At last the deacon led them out. It was immediately noticed that a yellow factsheet had been nailed to the outside of the door. The Roman Catholics of the neighborhood had decided to end the centuries-long schism. Why not now, when everybody else was settling their differences? A Final Solution.
     A bullet split wood from the door frame. The men standing on the stoop jumped back inside. A voice called from the street, "You damn commie atheist Protestants! We're gonna wipe you out and send your lousy heretic souls straight to Hell!" More gunfire. The stained glass windows of the church shattered, and there were cries from inside.
     "They got one of the elders!"
     "It's those crummy Catholics. We should have got them when we had the chance. Damn it, now they got us holed up in here."
     The next day a blue factsheet was circulated by the Jewish community explaining that they had finally gotten tired of having their gabardine spat on and that everybody'd just have to watch out. Around the world the remaining clusters of people fractured again, on the basis of creed.
     It was getting so you didn't know who you could trust.

     [George Alec Effinger, “All The Last Wars At Once”]

     Identity politics. Identity movements. Identity ambiguity. Identity fluidity. Identity versus Identity.

     It’s all getting to be a bit much.

     Having said that, I shall remind my Gentle Readers that I believe the rise of the white identity movement, generally connected to the ill-defined political movement that styles itself the Alt-Right, was:

  • Compelled by the prevailing sociopolitical conditions;
  • On the whole, a positive development.

     I maintain those stances despite my conviction that identitarianism is a form of collectivism, and usually proves destructive in the long run.

     Yet I own and regularly wear a sweatshirt emblazoned with the slogan:


     (Don’t fall off your chair, now!)

     Bril emerged near the pink star, disliking its light, and found the fourth planet. It hung waiting for him like an exotic fruit. (And was it ripe, and could he ripen it? And what if it were poison?) He left his machine in orbit and descended in a bubble. A young savage watched him come and waited by a waterfall.
     "Earth was my mother," said Bril from the bubble. It was the formal greeting of all humankind, spoken in the Old Tongue.
     "And my father," said the savage, in an atrocious accent.
     Watchfully, Bril emerged from the bubble, but stood very close by it. He completed his part of the ritual. "I respect the disparity of our wants, as individuals, and greet you."
     "I respect the identity of our needs, as humans, and greet you. I am Wonyne," said the youth, "son of Tanyne, of the Senate, and Nina. This place is Xanadu, the district, on Xanadu, the fourth planet."
     "I am Bril of Kit Carson, second planet of the Sumner System, and a member of the Sole Authority," said the newcomer, adding, "and I come in peace."
     He waited then, to see if the savage would discard any weapons he might have, according to historic protocol. Wonyne did not; he apparently had none. He wore only a cobwebby tunic and a broad belt made of flat, black, brilliantly polished stones and could hardly have concealed so much as a dart. Bril waited yet another moment, watching the untroubled face of the savage, to see if Wonyne suspected anything of the arsenal hidden in the sleek black uniform, the gleaming jackboots, the metal gauntlets.
     Wonyne said only, "Then, in peace, welcome." He smiled. "Come with me to Tanyne's house and mine, and be refreshed."

     [Theodore Sturgeon, “The Skills of Xanadu”]

     (Another “don’t” for you: Don’t wish you had a memory like mine. Yes, it provides me with a great many interesting bits of reference material, some allegorical and some more direct, but it’s also a source of a mighty sorrow. I remember far more than I’d like. I often wish I were as good at forgetting as I am at remembering, for the past is both an inexhaustible treasure and an indelible record of human folly: mine included.)

     Human commonalities mostly express needs: survival needs; security needs; the need for acceptance; the need for self-approval; the need for self-improvement. These are close to being defining characteristics for Homo sapiens terrestrialis. Black, white, brown, red, or yellow, we all share them. None of the lesser orders possess them all.

     Human individuality is mostly about wants: our personal desires, preferences, and tastes. These are beyond my ability to enumerate. No two of us have exactly the same set, to exactly the same intensities, arranged in exactly the same priority order.

     Identity movements attempt to add an intermediate category: some characteristic that serves both to collect some of us into a mobilizable group and, thus collected, to divide them from others. These days, the movements most in the news pertain to race, sex, and erotic orientation.

     The collection part is potentially innocent. There’s nothing wrong with taking pleasure in some aspect of oneself. I am pleased – occasionally, somewhat more – to be all of the following:

  • White;
  • Male;
  • Heterosexual;
  • Catholic;
  • Married;
  • Politically libertarian-conservative;
  • A technologist;
  • A scientist;
  • A writer.

     To the extent that any of the above characteristics are alterable, I would not dream of altering them. I’m happy to be what I am, and I hope most profoundly that you are, too. No matter how greatly we may differ, I want you to be happy with yourself.

     I also don’t want you to hate me. Or anyone else, come to think of it. That’s how self-regard that takes pleasure in various of one’s characteristics can remain innocent.

     Love of oneself does not require hatred of anyone else. Similarly, love of “one’s own” – whites, men, heterosexuals, Catholics, whatever — does not require hatred of those who aren’t part of the relevant group. Yet contemporary identity movements are as flush with hatred as they are with love...and sometimes much more so.

     The promise of identity groups is the same as the promise of a group of any other sort: to the extent that the members of the group can collaborate on a common aim without doing damage to persons not in the group, they can help one another to advance on that aim.

     The early civil rights movement showcased that promise. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t promote hatred of anyone. Indeed, he emphasized Christian love of neighbor, regardless of the color of the neighbor’s skin. Dr. King and his followers didn’t seek to deprive anyone of anything; they merely sought equal treatment under the law for the American Negro. If it had remained that innocent, the civil rights movement would have been wholly constructive. Unfortunately, it fell into the pit of Hell with Dr. King’s assassination and the ascendancy of figures such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farrakhan, all of whom promoted envy, resentment, and hatred – successfully.

     Thus also with white identitarianism.

     The burgeoning white-identity movement can still retain its innocence. However, purveyors of hatred are gaining a purchase on it. The hatreds are variously aimed: at blacks; at Orientals; at Jews; at Muslims; and so forth. Not only is that a corruption; it weakens the movement’s possibilities for gaining its proper aim.

     Hatred deflects one’s energies from constructive channels into destructive ones. If it is unnecessary to the attainment of the common aim – and I maintain that it is – then it can, should, and must be avoided.

     This is a book of love: love of one’s own, not hatred of the other. It is intended to bring hope, not to fuel a sense of hopelessness. It is meant to bring people together, not to drive them apart.

     [Robert S. Oculus III, The White Book]

     Are you minded to be an identitarian of any sort, Gentle Reader? It wouldn’t surprise me. The whole country is trending that way, to the extent that a couple of states are actually taking secession. I won’t insult your intelligence with an inanity such as “love trumps hate,” or anything like it. But I will exhort you to be aware of your true motivations.

     Love of one’s own is right and proper. The defense of one’s own against aggressors, regardless of their identities, is right and proper. The desire to get along with one’s neighbors necessarily includes those things – and includes one’s neighbors within their protection.

     It’s my contention that whites and blacks – more strictly speaking, Caucasians and Negroes – are observably sociopolitically immiscible at this time. The envy, resentment, and hatred that divide the two races dwarf any of our commonalities. Perhaps it need not be that way...but just now, it most certainly is. The facts speak for themselves.

     Facts have more power than anyone’s intentions.

     There’s a separation in progress: the separation of the races into separate, largely racially exclusive zones. That separation is driven by the inchoate realization that blacks mean trouble for whites – that even a sound, self-respecting black married couple can produce children who will hate their white neighbors and see them as acceptable targets for predation. No one who accepts this, consciously or otherwise, will placidly sit still while it takes shape around him.

     But it’s not a reason for whites to hate blacks.

     Similarly, Americans are slowly coming to acknowledge that Muslims mean trouble for Christians and Jews...for all non-Muslims, really. Suspicion has swelled about the rapid multiplication of mosques in this country. Far too many of them have been found to promulgate the Wahhabist / Salafist hatred and militancy that gave birth to Islam-powered terrorism, al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the unending slaughters in the Middle East. Just as whites are steadily separating from blacks, informal, sotto voce cordons are forming around Muslim-heavy districts. This, too, is entirely understandable, right, and proper.

     But it’s not a reason for non-Muslims to hate Muslims.

     It’s possible to love our own, to recognize the facts of our time, and to act on them in defense of ourselves and those we love without hating anyone or wishing them ill.

     There’s much good potential in the loosely defined “alt-right” movement. There’s also a lot of potential for harm, and harm there will surely be if persons with evil intentions gain a foothold within it. Consider the anti-Semitic comments to this movie review.

     You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong. And it is most definitely wrong to hate “the other” and to work for his destruction. If he strikes you, you may strike him back, as grievously as necessary to ensure your survival, security, and the survival and security of those you love. But unless you actually desire the outcome I speculated about here, you need not hate – and if you do hate and do desire that outcome, you are no friend to freedom or justice.

     You're also no friend of mine.

     That’s enough, I think. I could have wrapped it more concisely: Love your own, but don’t hate “the other.” Merely defend yourself against him as necessary. Should defense require separation, then work for that separation. Hatred and what follows in its train are neither desirable nor required.

     Identity groups that retain that posture can be innocent and constructive; they can help us to defend that which is dear to us without causing still greater terror, chaos, and destruction. Those that fall to the infection of hatred will sow the wind.

     With that I yield the floor to my Gentle Readers.

Election Day - Why Won't the Sex Charges Affect Moore's Chances?

The answer is simple, but apparently beyond the average Progressive's ability to understand:

Because we don't believe you anymore

That's unfortunate, as there are likely a few women, caught up in the craziness, whose word IS good. Whose story has some relationship to the facts.

But - and here is the thing, now - there is NO WAY FOR US TO KNOW WHICH SIDE OF THE TRUTH THAT PERSON IS ON.

That being the case, we (the Deplorables) have decided to DIS-believe all of the frenzy that is not accompanied by independent, verifiable EVIDENCE.

Which, the yearbook is NOT.

Anecdotes are not.

Tears and drama, such as "He KISSED me - right on the MOUTH!!!!!"


Not impressed.

It's really hard for them to accept our point of view. Every time it's shown that the "scandals" are not affecting the votes, they double-down and bring out EVEN MORE HORRIFYING AND LURID STORIES,


They don't get it - we REALLY don't trust them to come even close to the truth.

So, I'm expecting yet another "Inexplicable Victory", followed by re-hashing of the charges (no proof, however, just - well, to be charitable, it's GOSSIP).

Followed by shaking their heads, putting on their Mantle of Superior Morality (Trademark pending), and vowing to set up even MORE nonprofits dedicated to getting Democrats elected re-educating the populace, from birth to death, in properly accepted Progressive Ideology. Fortunately, Mao, Stalin, Castro, Chavez, and a lot of other Leftists have shown the way.

A VERY clever take on recent American politics.

In the weeks immediately following the election, the mainstream media inundated liberals with pronouncements of the advent of an “Age of Darkness” and the “Triumph of White Supremacy” over the beneficent values of Globalism.

Yes, it was pretty much the end of everything. America was facing nothing less than a descent into “racial Orwellianism,” “Zionist anti-Semitism,” and “the bottomless pit of Fascism” itself. Liberals, who by then had dispensed with the safety pins, immediately set about terrorizing their children with visions of the impending holocaust, which would be carried out by the genocidal, racist monsters who had voted for Trump.[1]

This excerpt hardly does it justice. Highly recommended. RTWT.

[1] "2017: The Year of the Headless Liberal Chicken." By CJ Hopkins, Russia Insider, 12/12/17 (links omitted).

“Just shoot me” Dept.

Headline: Dennis Rodman should be taken seriously as a US peace envoy to North Korea.[1]

[1] Adam Garrie, The Duran, 12/12/17.

Monday, December 11, 2017

What Makes A Writer “Great?”

     Yes, yes, I’m back. I had a rough couple of days, that’s all. No need to call the coroner just yet.

     In the midst of a delightful flaying of left-wing word mangling, Sarah Hoyt relates this vignette about a Facebook argument over “great” writers:

     [Her interlocutor] entered a discussion on the purpose of writing, and whether writing should/could be good when done simply for money, by saying that since all great writers never made money from their writing, it was obvious that writing for money was a bad thing.

     I countered with the names of six (considered) great writers who made fortunes from writing. He said “Ah, half a dozen out of hundreds” so I continued giving him names, as they occurred to me. It is a fact (perhaps not universally acknowledged, but a fact) that most writers we consider great made money from their writing. If they died in poverty it was because of their spectacularly bad money-management skills. Now, I’m not going to get into an argument over whether writing for money makes writing better. The sample of “writers we consider great” is contaminated by the fact that the writers have to have been widely disseminated enough to begin with for their writing to be known now and considered anything. That implies a degree of initial success, which usually brings money. It’s entirely possible that someone somewhere wrote something great that was never read except by their mother and their cat, but then those writers are not now universally acknowledged as “great.”

     Sarah has exposed a key fact: Circulation is a prerequisite. No writer we deem “great” languished in total obscurity during his working lifetime. All “great” writers were widely read, at least by the standards of their times. Wide circulation brings revenue with it. Whether it was enough revenue to live on is a separate question.

     But writers we consider hacks have also enjoyed wide circulation. Some of them had much wider readerships than any generally acknowledged “great” writer. So while circulation is necessary, it’s not sufficient. I’m sure any of my Gentle Readers could name a number of contemporary hacks who’ve sold millions of books.

     So what does it take? What are the criteria? What makes a writer great? Well, we could say that a great writer is one who has written a great book or books. (Beware the ambiguity of “great book.” We wouldn’t want to use it in the sense of the medieval writer who wrote that “I have before me a great book, for it weigheth four and a half pounds.”) But what makes a book great?

     It’s difficult to become a great writer in certain categories. Take children’s books, for instance. What writer of children’s stories, other than the late, lamented Theodore Seuss Geisel, would anyone call great? The field itself seems to minimize the possibility.

     Similarly, some of the best selling books of all time are cookbooks. But the writers of cookbooks, which they might be accorded respect as great cooks, are seldom (if ever) deemed great writers, despite the painstaking work that goes into transcribing hundreds of recipes.

     Oh, here’s another one: books of mathematical and scientific reference data. Quite a lot of books filled with nothing but logarithms and the values of the trigonometric functions have sold very well indeed. However, their “writers” don’t get a lot of mentions in critical circles. Is that “unfair” in some sense?

     Many persons would dismiss all the above categories as “not real writing.” They have a decent argument for their position. Yet quite a lot of work goes into those books. As they’re relied upon for various purposes by those who buy them, they demand accuracy and precision. That they don’t qualify for literary accolades seems rather sad.

     It appears that in pondering greatness among writers, if we want some degree of commonality about what sort of work would qualify, we must stick to fiction.

     Fiction – the telling of stories – has its own unique demands. The first of them is the toughest to meet:

There must be a story.

     Moreover, the nature of the story is rather narrowly confined. It must be about “people,” broadly defined. Its characters must confront challenges or problems of significance. And whether they succeed or fail, those characters must experience change.

     Let’s tackle the “people” part first. What constitutes “people?” Well, they must be self-aware – sentient. They must have needs and desires. They must have some degree of rational volition – the ability to think through a problem and make conscious decisions about how to solve it. And they must have limitations. That makes it easy to exclude non-rational animals, emotionless and omnipotent beings. Everyone else qualifies, at least prima facie.

     Consider in this light two fantasies: Thomas M. Disch’s The Brave Little Toaster and Richard Adams’s Watership Down. The protagonists in both books are non-human...but they function as people, quite as well as the recognizably human characters in any other novel.

     The “people” in a good story will confront important problems: not a missing sock or a cracked coffee mug; something that calls their convictions and emotions into play. The problem must be clearly drawn, at that; it can’t be something nebulous or puerile such as “finding myself.” And to solve the problem must require that the protagonist experience change: he must grow in some fashion, or learn something about life or himself that he hadn’t previously known.

     Once again, I think we’ve established prerequisites – necessary conditions – for calling a story great, without zeroing in on the defining characteristic of greatness itself. Many a good story has been told that no one, not even the storyteller’s relatives, would call great. There’s something more at work in the crafting of a truly great tale.

     We’re getting into the subjective here, so as usual, your mileage may vary.

     The emergence during the Twentieth Century of fictional styles that deviate greatly from direct narration was accompanied by a great tumult, among readers and critics both. Some of them, such as stream-of-consciousness, were eventually widely accepted. Others, such as the fragmented, difficult to follow approaches employed by Jerzy Kosinski and J. P. Donleavy, have gained only limited popularity. Curiously, in critical circles the latter command greater prestige than the former. Often a critic will deem a writer’s dramatic deviation from the norm reason enough to call him “great” even if his books don’t sell.

     My own take on this is that such stylistic “innovations” are lace edging at best, sense-clouding deviation for deviation’s sake at worst. The quality of the story being told, particularly how deeply it affects the reader, matters infinitely more than any aspect of style.

     A deeply affecting story needn’t be about world-shaking events. It can be, of course; J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy concerns events that could mean enduring freedom or a permanent descent into slavery for an entire world. But Judith Guest’s beautiful Ordinary People is equally affecting, though it limits itself to the troubles of a single family that’s lost a son in a boating accident.

     Note that the two books above tell widely different kinds of story, and are told in markedly different styles. Yet both fit my criterion for greatness: they couple to the great emotions and what evokes them.

     The great emotions are most reliably evoked by a story that illustrates a great truth about human nature. Sometimes, the central truth will be of the sort that we’re loath to admit to ourselves. That’s the case in Ordinary People, where the Jarrett family’s difficulties arise from the way Beth Jarret blames her son Conrad for her son Jordan’s death. In other cases, the central truth will be about something grander in scale that we (should) all know: the inherent goals of those who embrace evil, and the sacrifices good men must make to defeat them, as in The Lord of the Rings. But one way or another, an eternal verity – an abiding truth that’s both universal among men and inherent in our common nature – will stand at the heart of a great tale.

     A writer will sometimes be accorded greatness on the strength of a single book. Consider Margaret Mitchell and Gone With The Wind. Other writers are deemed great on the basis of a consistent level of excellence in their lifetime body of work, such as Hemingway, Faulkner, and Steinbeck. Then there are “split decisions” about writers such as Norman Mailer, who did produce one great book, The Naked and the Dead, and one hell of a lot of schlock. Opinions will always vary.

     The one thing that won’t vary is that people will read their stuff.

     Few writers working today will ever be called great. In part that’s because there are so many writers today, if we allow the title to anyone who’s ever emitted a Kindle eBook. But in larger measure, it’s because there’s a whole lot of detritus obscuring good storytelling in our time. It begins with emphasis on “style.” It ends with “message fiction.” In the middle are the emissions of critics, most of whom couldn’t compose a comprehensible note to their mothers, and literary prizes most commonly awarded by prize juries on the basis of personal acquaintances, commonality of style, and “politically correct” sentiments.

     Most of the garbage will get caught in the filter of time. The good stuff will be read by generations to come. Their readers will select from those survivors which books and writers are to be called great. We won’t be given a vote, except by what we choose to buy, read, and recommend to one another today.

     (Cross-posted at my fiction-promotion site.)